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The Time Machine (2002)
Awesome but wanted more.
This movie intrigued me, philosophically, almost as much as the Matrix did. There is so much more that could be explored in this movie. Of course, I am at a disadvantage in that I have not read the book. Perhaps it might not go amiss if I read it...
For some reason, I found myself comparing this movie to an episode of Star Trek: TNG. I know, strange... But, the exploration of different topics in this movie where handled in much the same way. In my opinion, this is a negative in a movie. In Star Trek, you know you have 45 minutes to get through the story and issues etc. But a movie? For all intents and purposes, in a movie you have all the time in the world. I think there could have been MUCH more done in this movie with the Morlocks and evolution and that whole ball of wax. But, again, I haven't read the book, so, going on such tangents may not be a part of the original.
So, despite that, what a great movie! Very entertaining. There is something about watching glaciers move at high rates of speed that is just cool. It is also a treat to see Jeremy Irons playing a quasi-evil guy. A must see, at least, but, I bought the DVD too.
On its own merits...
I have one piece of advice for anyone who wants to see this movie: read the book first. Then, my second piece of advice is: after you have read the book, don't compare the movie to the book. Let the movie stand on its own merits. This movie, at time, a great many times in fact, asks a lot of the view. Moreover, it makes a number of assumptions of the viewer. I watched the movie several times before I read the book and found that I enjoyed both more once I enjoyed both several times. The movie does leave a lot out, but, the movie doesn't ask the viewer to really understand and fully grasp the story the way Mr. Herbert wrote it.
Speaking only of the visuals, this movie is incredible. The sets, costumes, the cinematography etc. where top notch for the day. Even today, much of this original movie could not be improved upon by the newest version produced for the SciFi Channel. Not fully knowing how to express it, I will only say that in comparison to the new version, this Lynch version seems more real, more tangible than the SciFi version.
Despite its shortcomings in comparison to the book, this movie remains one of my favorite movies of all time. To enjoy it you have to take what is given.
Different from the book doesn't mean bad.
I am used to hearing from just about everyone who has read a book that was made into a movie that the book is always better. I tend to agree with this opinion. Contact, however, shows that in the arts the norm is not always the truth; opinion, no matter how often it is backed up with evidence, can never break through the barrier into be a hardened and absolute truth.
I saw this movie first before I read the book. That is partly because I didn't know that there was the book until after the movie. So, a year or so after the viewing, I got the book. Of course, the movie, in general terms, follows the book fairly well. I have to say, the movie can easily stand on its own merits just as the book can also.
The immediate impression of the film after the book is that there is a great emphasis on faith, proof, truth and opinion. These themes are not much brought up in the book - at least not with the same impact nor in the same way as in the film. Of course, the field of Astrophysics, of which Carl Sagan was a practitioner, lends itself very easily to ultimate questions such as God, faith, truth etc. The vastness of space and complexity of reality, viewed through the scrutiny of the scientific eye, is mind-boggling. As was repeated in the movie several times: "if we're all that there is, "its an awful waste of space." Personally, I think that the book relates these notions of vastness and complexity much better than the movie. But, the audience of the book was certainly not necessarily the same audience as the movie.
To be more fair, the vastness which was expressed in the book was demonstrated to an equal degree, but differed in quality, by the "aloneness" of Dr. Arroway as she scuttles across the universe. In the book, Dr. Arroway is not alone but go with a team of scientists, all of whom make their appearance in the movie. There is much more detail given in the book of the trip through the device than in the movie. In fact, there are very deliberate omissions made which eliminate the technological bent of the book. Yet, the focus of the movie does not allow the movie to be diminished by these omissions in the same way that the book would unavoidably be lacking without those details.
One final aspect of the movie which is relevant with respect to the book is time. Of course, in physics, time has its leading role so it must make at least a cameo in a movie which relies on physics. Astrophysics is tied inextricably to relativity which is likewise tied to time. The timelessness of the device design sent via radio signals and the instantaneous trip Dr. Arroway seemed to put relativity into perfect perspective. The book takes a slightly different view by using distance and the experience of each traveler of moving fast distances with no other apparent sensations of motion. It all adds up to different but equal expressions of the science which Carl Sagan had mastered.
Both the book and the movie are simply fantastic, one not outshining the other as regards their scope and vision. Watch the film, it is a beautiful one. Read the book, it is equally beautiful.
A Christmas Story (1983)
There are few movies that are such classics that you can recall nearly every line from nearly every character. To me, this is such a movie. Who will forget the old man saying, "You used up...all the glue...on PURPOSE!" Or, "Only one thing in the world could've dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.". "'No, No! I want an official Red Rider, Carbine Action Range Model Air-rifle!' 'You'll shoot your eye out, kid '" Actually, this movie is so good that it is a movie you can enjoy without the movie. I can, and have actually done so, sat down with friends, while at university, and go through the entire movie and have ourselves rolling with laughter. "A Christmas Story" is one of a small handful of films which are must watches during the Holiday season, but it is certainly not limited to that season. Just awesome.
The Chronicle (2001)
What were they thinking?
I was disturbed greatly when I realized (I had no idea the show was canceled until I watched the final episode) and later learned for a fact that Sci-Fi Channel was canceling this show. I found this show to be well thought out, light-hearted, and just a plain good show - the cheese to cool ratio was in perfect balance. I really wish that this was a show I could still be watching. A great show cut down before its time, indeed. I think that the execs at SciFi need to take a good look at their decision making process and see how it is that they went so wrong.
Howling V: The Rebirth (1989)
I have seen this movie 5 or 6 times over the past 10 years or so - whenever Scifi Channel plays it pretty much. I have to say that this movie is just awful but it is thoroughly entertaining. In that regard I love it. To give an analogy, this would be like making a movie yourself. It won't be that great but you will love watching it nonetheless... The Howling V is full of cheesy acting and has cheesy plot, if any, but there are some good scary moments. The set and lighting, while not thoroughly professional looking, are good indeed and do help to make the movie as good as it is.
All things being equal, this movie sucks, but, is worth a whirl in the VCR.
I saw this movie a couple of weeks after it opened because I wanted to read what people thought about it before I saw it. In a number of instances I was taken aback by the number of people who seem to be personally offended by this movie. They sound as if they expected Lucas to make the movie to THEIR specifications, etc. rather than his. I will agree, the story is much better than the first but, they are both just as good as the original 3 episodes.
What I don't understand is the rather forceful rebuke of the romantic twist in this movie. Many who simply can't stand it all profess to be die hard Star Wars fans, but, they seem to forget Han and Leia... Besides, if Anakin is going to be the father of Luke, Luke is gonna need a mother; it stands to reason at least doesn't it? If we want to revisit Greek mythology we can have Luke popping out of Anakin's head like Zeus and Athena but, that just doesn't work.
We hear a much less campy script, although the light hearted, corny, 3PO lines during the "colosseum" scene, but it was just good fun. We are blessed with less Jar-Jar; I think I appreciated his goofiness much more in this movie because instead of a constant stream of it we got just a peppering.
Another complain I heard was the understanding of the Force in this movie, that the Jedi seem to have "lost" the understanding of what it is all about. But, I think that this comes from a blind viewing and not putting that LOSS in the context of the other movies in which there the Jedi are not simply destroyed but the understanding of it is lost. The Dark Side, for the most part, has over powered the good guy in the original 3 and Luke is the "New Hope" for the Jedi... Sometimes the titles of the movies tell us something...don't you think?
This movie was impressive and fun. There were some kinks, I think, in the plot (For one, I didn't understand the fact that Dooku didn't know about the Clone Army yet he was the one who recruited Jengo Fet to be the clone host) but, I don't care. They don't take away from the fun and enjoyment gained from seeing it. It was great fun!